‘Kinship’ totes offer comfort for breast cancer patients in recovery

Photo courtesy of Kinship bags

June 17, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer

When Hingham resident Nancy Holtschlag was undergoing treatment for breast cancer and also during her recovery, she was surrounded by family and friends offering help and support.

That's the reason she founded Kinship, LLC, a curated collection of recovery essentials to help share with breast cancer patients the same kind of comfort she felt when she was in a similar situation.

Holtschlag and a core network of other breast cancer survivors, with whom she formed a close friendship through their shared yet unique experiences, compiled a list of items they found most helpful during their own recovery. Holtschlag also did further research.

"These are dear friends in town who found an instant bond with each other and wanted to help others who were going through similar experiences so that they didn't feel alone and knew there are others who want to help," Holtschlag told the Hingham Anchor. "We felt an immediate kinship, which is what led to the name of my company."

This group's understanding and support contributed greatly to the fulfillment of Holtschlag's desire to create a company that would provide recovery kits of useful products -- packaged in a reusable tote -- for friends, family members, and co-workers who are wondering how they can help and support a loved one who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and about to undergo surgery to give as meaningful gifts.

Up until that time, Holtschlag would sanitize and then loan the items she had used during her own recovery -- along with sending her best wishes -- when people asked her for guidance and advice in supporting loved ones who were experiencing breast cancer. But there were only so many items to loan, so the thought of creating a business to provide these essentials to more than one person at a time came to mind.

The totes contain several useful items -- a wedge pillow to help those in recovery remain propped up in bed when they can't lie flat and two adjustable cushy pillows to comfortably prop up each arm when needed that also double as seatbelt buffers when going to or returning from a doctor's appointment; blue pockets with sticky tape on three sides of the fabric that button or zip inside a garment to hold drain bulbs; protective shower pockets; a lap "desk" for reading or using a laptop, reusable bendable straws; and dry shampoo -- all packaged inside a zippered tote that can be used later on for a beach trip or when grocery shopping. Some of the items inside can also be repurposed.

The courage of this group of breast cancer survivors is an inspiration to others.

While going through her experience with breast cancer, Holtschlag kept her focus on remaining hopeful and "keeping things as normal as possible during an abnormal experience," she said. "I didn't want this to be my sole focus because I am also a wife, mom, and friend. What motivated me through this time was to try and remain as 'me' as possible."

Throughout the entire experience, including recovery, Holtschlag's family and friends provided a great deal of support -- from providing meals and walking the dog to putting up Christmas decorations. "Many people helped me turn the corner [back to normal life], and this tote bag is something I can do for others who are [facing a similar challenge]."

While the experiences of those with breast cancer vary, "knowing that you are part of a larger community of people who understand and who are on your side creates an instant bond and a sense of reassurance and comfort," Holtschlag said.

She delivers the Kinship totes locally and can ship them anywhere in the continental United States. She has already sold quite a few through word of mouth and Facebook and plans to visit local hospitals to share information about the kits for those who may be interested.

"I just want to help," Holtschlag said. She plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer causes.

"I want to thank my gifted, wonderful, and supportive friends who modeled some of the items for me on my website," she said.

Visit https://kinshipbags.com/ for more details and to order a tote bag.

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